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House of the Dragon: trailer, story, cast and everything you need to know

Matt Smith in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO )
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House of the Dragon: key info

House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

- Began streaming on August 21
- Available on HBO Max in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK
- Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, and Matt Smith are among the ensemble cast
- The show is based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel, Fire and Blood
- First season will span 10 episodes, second season already confirmed by HBO

It's been over three years since the Game of Thrones finale saw HBO's flagship show bow out with a whimper rather than a bang, but the world of Westeros finally returns in 2022. 

House of the Dragon, a 10-episode series based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel, Fire and Blood, tells the backstory of the Targaryen dynasty, taking place 200 years prior to the events of the original show.

Below, we've detailed everything you need to know about the new series – from its main cast of characters to complex development process.

Release date: The highly-anticipated series began streaming on August 21, 2022 on HBO Max in the US, and August 22, 2022 on Sky Atlantic in the UK. 

Cast: Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Emma D'Arcy, Sonoya Mizuno and Steve Toussaint all feature in the series as part of its vast ensemble cast. Scroll down for much more on who they're each playing, as well as the other confirmed cast members.

Story: Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the show's plot charts the Targaryen civil war that ensues when the king, Viserys, chooses his daughter, Rhaenyra, as heir to the throne of Westeros. And yes: there are dragons – 17 of them, to be exact. 

House of the Dragon release date

House of the Dragon began streaming on Sunday, August 21 on HBO Max in the US, plus other international territories where WarnerMedia's streaming platform is available. UK viewers were able to access episodes at the same time as their US counterparts (on the morning of August 22) on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.

Executive producer George R. R. Martin confirmed, in February, that filming had wrapped on "all ten episodes," before HBO finally revealed the show's official release date March. 

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As mentioned, in addition to launching on HBO and HBO Max in the US, the series released on Sky and Now TV in the UK, following a new deal Sky TV signed with HBO in October 2019 (opens in new tab) that will keep HBO shows on the platforms "for many years to come."

House of the Dragon cast

At a glance, the key House of the Dragon cast looks like this:

  • Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen
  • Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower
  • Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower (younger)
  • Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
  • Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (younger)
  • Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
  • Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon – or The Sea Snake, as he's known
  • Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon
  • Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower
  • Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
  • Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
  • Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon
  • John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon
  • Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon (younger)
  • Savannah Steyn as Lady Laena Velayron
  • Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
  • Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong
  • Jefferson Hall as twins Lord Jason Lannister and Tyland Lannister
  • David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos
  • Matthew Needham as Larys Strong
  • Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury
  • Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong

HBO has been pretty open about who's in House of the Dragon's cast (and who's playing which characters) ever since filming on the show began last year. 

Still, we're going to be careful on spoilers, here, because if you go digging into the events of Fire and Blood, you might end up ruining part of the show's story. Below, we're sticking to what HBO has officially revealed so far about House of the Dragon.

First up, Paddy Considine is playing King Viserys Targaryen, who's selected by the lords of Westeros as the successor to the previous king – Jaehaerys Targaryen. HBO describes (opens in new tab) him as a 'warm, kind and decent man', whose main goal is to continue his grandfather's way of doing things. But since when does being a 'decent man' ever get you anywhere in Westeros, except dead? Viserys is also the namesake of Daenerys' older brother.

Let's go to the highest-profile piece of casting in the show. Playing Viserys' younger brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen, is Matt Smith of The Crown and Doctor Who fame. Described as an unmatched warrior, he's the heir to the throne of Westeros – he's also capable of riding dragons, and he sounds like trouble waiting to happen. Not everyone in Westeros seems to be a fan of Daemon, as we'll touch on below. 

House of the Dragon

Olivia Cooke and Rhys Ifans on a beach in House of the Dragon. (Image credit: HBO)

Let's flip to another Targaryen. Truth Seekers’ Emma D'Arcy plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Viserys' first-born child – it sounds like her only big drawback in this show is being a woman, when the world around her favors men in positions of power. But hey, she's also capable of riding dragons, and she's of pure Valyrian blood. Milly Alcock will play a younger version of Princess Rhaenyra in the show's early episodes, before proceedings jump 10 years into the future. 

Ready Player One’s Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower. She's politically savvy, and is closely aligned with the king and his allies – she's also the daughter of Rhys Ifans' Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King. Hightower doesn't trust Daemon, and regards his status as heir to the throne as a fraught state of affairs. The younger version of Alicent will be played by Emily Carey.

Steve Toussaint plays Lord Corlys Velaryon, also known as the Sea Snake. He's got big nautical energy, possessing the largest navy in Westeros and being a famous adventurer on the high seas himself. The Velaryon bloodline is as old as House Targaryen, HBO says. Interestingly, in March 2021, it was reported by Deadline (opens in new tab) that HBO was considering a spin-off focusing specifically on this character.

Eve Best plays Corlys' wife, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon. She was in contention to rule Westeros, except the Great Council bypassed her status as heir to elect her cousin, Viserys, as king. The reason? He's a man, and she is not. That's bound to be the source of some major tension on the show. 

Sticking with relatives to Corlys, Wil Johnson plays his younger brother, Ser Vaemond Velaryon, who is also a commander in the Velaryon navy. Savannah Steyn stars as Lady Laena Velayron, daughter of Corlys and Rhaenys, while both John Macmillan and Theo Nate play their son, Ser Laenor Velaryon (older and younger, respectively).

Other characters include Devs' Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria, who HBO says has been "sold more times than she can recall". She's escaped a life of degradation, however, and now finds herself as the closest ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, making her a fairly powerful figure in Westeros.

Dornish lad Ser Criston Cole is being played by Fabien Frankel. He's a commoner, but since HBO notes he kicks ass with a sword, you can expect him to play a key role in the larger story of House of the Dragon.

Then there's The Hobbit actor Graham McTavish, who'll be playing Ser Harrold Westerling, a paragon of chivalry and honor who has served in the Kingsguard since the days of King Jaehaerys. Incidentally, McTavish also starred in The Witcher season 2, so the actor is clearly in an epic fantasy place right now.

Other cast members (and characters) include Ryan Corr (as Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong), Jefferson Hall (as twins Lord Jason Lannister and Tyland Lannister), David Horovitch (as Grand Maester Mellos), Matthew Needham (as Larys Strong), Bill Paterson (as Lord Lyman Beesbury) and Gavin Spokes (as Lord Lyonel Strong).

You'll find character notes on all of the above on HBO's official show page (opens in new tab)

House of the Dragon story

Update: We've opted to leave the below section written as a series of predictions, rather than as a running commentary of how events are playing out in the show. House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max in the US and Sky and Now TV in the UK.

The new Game of Thrones prequel series focuses on House Targaryen, so expect ambition, incest – the family was dysfunctional long before Viserys and Daenerys came along – and, of course, winged, fire-breathing reptiles. 17 of them, to be exact. 

As mentioned, the new show is based on George R. R. Martin's 2018 book Fire and Blood (which managed to annoy a section of the fanbase by not being The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga – it's been 10 years since the previous instalment, A Dance With Dragons, landed in bookstores).

House of the Dragon

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon. (Image credit: HBO)

Instead, the book is a history of the dragon-riding Targaryen family – the author himself has described it as the "GRRMarillion", a nod to the dense J. R. R. Tolkien non-novel that recounts the pre-Lord of the Rings history of Middle-earth. 

In terms of chronology, House of the Dragon is set 200 years before Game of Thrones, and in a revealing July interview with The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik broke down the series' plot in simple terms: 

“The main characters are two women and two men. There’s the king (Viserys), his brother (Daemon), the king’s daughter (Rhaenyra) and her best friend (Alicent). Then the best friend becomes the king’s wife and thereby the queen. That in itself is complicated – when your best friend goes and marries your dad. But from the tiniest things, it slowly evolves this gigantic battle between two sides.”

"It’s powerful, it’s visceral, it’s dark, it’s like a Shakespearean tragedy," Martin added in the same interview, which describes House of the Dragon as "a family drama (with a dash of incest, of course).”

We've also learned what audiences can expect from the show's Dragon-sized cast members. “The biggest difference about this series is the fact that dragons exist in this [era], whereas they were an extinct species that came back to life in the original show,” co-showrunner Ryan Condal told THR. “So there’s an infrastructure built around them. There’s a dragon pit, saddles and dragon keepers – this monk-like order that takes care of them.”

In other words, House of the Dragon looks set to have the same mix of dragons, epic battles, political intrigue and betrayals as Game of Thrones, with one major difference – this being a prequel, we know exactly where it's heading.

House of the Dragon creators: who's making it?

A Twitter announcement in October 2019 revealed that George R. R. Martin created the new Game of Thrones prequel series with Ryan Condal. Condal is best known for showrunning USA Network alien invasion drama Colony, and scripting the Dwayne Johnson-starring game adaptation Rampage.

Olivia Cooke and Emma D'Arcy in House of the Dragon

Olivia Cooke and Emma D'Arcy face off in House of the Dragon (Image credit: HBO)

Condal has written the show and will share showrunning duties with Miguel Sapochnik. Sapochnik directed some of Game of Thrones' most epic episodes – including season 6's Battle of the Bastards and season 8's The Long Night – and will helm multiple episodes of House of the Dragon, including the pilot.

Other confirmed producers include Vince Gerardis, Sara Lee Hess and Ron Schmidt. Directors Clare Kilner, Geeta V Patel and Greg Yaitanes are also working on the series. 

What's more, Variety (opens in new tab) reports that House of the Dragon will be the first show to make use of the V stage, a new virtual production stage at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, UK – which we presume could be similar to the Mandalorian's MicroLED display stages.

And, in perhaps the best appointment of all, composer Ramin Djawadi will be returning from Game of Thrones to score House of the Dragon.

House of the Dragon trailer

A new trailer for House Of The Dragon arrived at the start of May (opens in new tab), and you can see it below:

We got our first official look at House of the Dragon via the show's debut teaser trailer, which dropped in October. You can watch it below.

Other Game of Thrones spin-offs

What happened to the Game of Thrones prequel series, Blood Moon?

The other prequel series looked set to be massive. One of five potential spin-off shows ordered into development by HBO, this one, set 8,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones, looked the most likely to get a green light. HBO even shot a pilot episode over the summer of 2019. 

Scripted by Jane Goldman – who boasts Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and Kingsman on her impressive resumé – the untitled series would reportedly have told the story of the First Men, the Children of the Forest, and the creation of the White Walkers. 

Naomi Watts headed up an impressive cast that also included John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who), Miranda Richardson (Blackadder II, Good Omens), Jamie Campbell Bower (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, King Arthur) and Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The End of the F***ing World). 

All looked promising until October 2019, when it turned out HBO had decided not to pick up the show. So, what gave the broadcaster the fear? 

Matt Smith riding a dragon in House of the Dragon

Matt Smith (we think) rides a dragon in House of the Dragon (Image credit: HBO)

"In development, in pilots, sometimes things come together, sometimes they don't," HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys told Deadline (opens in new tab). "One of the things I think Jane [Goldman] took on beautifully, which was a challenge, there was a lot more world creation because she set hers 8,000 years before the [parent] show, so it required a lot more. One of the things about House of Dragons [sic], there is a text, there is a book, so that made it a little bit more of a road map for a series order.

"I think Jane did a beautiful job, it was a big challenge but there was nothing that I would point to and say, 'Oh, that one element did not work.' Just overall it did not quite gel."

As for whether House of the Dragon will eventually be joined on HBO by more shows set in Westeros, Bloys simply said: "For me for right now, I think getting House of the Dragon on the air will be the number one priority. There are no other blinking green lights or anything like that. Sometime down the road who knows, but there are no immediate plans."

In February 2021, Bloys again weighed in on the franchise's future beyond House of the Dragon. "I've never wanted to do this with a mandate that you must have three series by this time or you must exploit adult animation or you must do that,” he told Deadline (opens in new tab)

"It’s really coming from: would that be interesting? Is that good? Do we have a writer we believe in? That’s kind of the approach we are taking. I think you have to because if you don’t do that, it would lead to putting shows on for the sake of it."

This remained the situation in June 2021. “Any script that is in development or pitched becomes news, and it inevitably gets reported and people assume they are in production,” Bhoys told Deadline (opens in new tab). “Only House of the Dragon is in production, the rest are in development, and we will make a decision.”

While HBO is staying tight-lipped on the matter, other Westeros-set shows reportedly in development include 9 Voyages (focused on House of the Dragon character Lord Corlys Velaryon) and The Tales of Dunk and Egg (about the early days of King Aegon Targaryen). 

The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) also reports that several animated spin-offs are in development, though it also claims Flea Bottom (a potential live-action series set in the slums of Kings Landing) has been abandoned. For now, however, House of the Dragon is the only Game of Thrones spin-off you need to worry about.

Should you care about House of the Dragon?

By the time House of the Dragon arrives, we think curiosity for a Game of Thrones prequel series will be higher than it would've been three years ago, when the show ended divisively. 

The big names in the cast and shift in time frame do make the series sound intriguing – the pressure will just be on to make the stakes feel as grand as they were in the main series, which is tough when we ultimately know what happens to House Targaryen.

Still, we have missed seeing CG dragons destroy stuff over the past couple of years. If nothing else, hopefully this series will have plenty of that, and in any case, George R. R. Martin has said he "loved" the rough cuts of the House of the Dragon episodes he's seen so far – so it at least sounds like Game of Thrones fans are in for a treat.

Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.

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